Once, when heading out to see Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty we came upon this family of horses grazing near the road. The landscape of Promontory is austere and so different from the I-15 area just 40 minutes away. Locals will tell you that the road was much rougher in years past and had a few points where 4WD was required. In my many trips out there I have seen Audi Coups, passenger vans and even a Kenworth. Follow the signs and drive sensibly and you will make it.
Locations like Delicate Arch are difficult to photograph. Look online and you can see thousands on technically great shots, thousands more that try to hard with star trails, sparklers, dramatic light and on and on. Lots of advice as to best time of day or examples of the arch in different seasons. The first time I was there I made a midday panorama that had around 70 people in it. A cold day in early March had a dozen people up there posing for family photos under the arch and more on the way up. Delicate Arch is kind of like the Eiffel Tower in that the thing itself is so cool and so recognizable that photographs of it rarely do it justice. Delicate Arch and they way you come up on it from the trail is so powerful that I like to sit down and enjoy the view and spend some quality time taking it all in, consider how amazing it is that this exists. Then take some pictures, mostly for my personal archive.
As I was sitting up there on a rock at Delicate Arch, camera anchored to one of my trusty tripods, watching all the people and taking it in. A family with teenage boys approached the Arch and had a little photo session. Mom and Dad hugging under the Arch, Mom with the boys, goofy shots looking like you are pushing the arch, all the usual stuff. One of the teenage boys wandered away from the group and was messing with a phone or iPod. As I watched him I noticed that this was the picture that I wanted to make. Kind of funny to walk up to a world famous site and take a picture that does not include the “famous” thing. It’s a shot, a view, a situation that I had not seen, it spoke to me of being disconnected to the environment.
People watching in the National Parks is a great activity as is spotting cool cars in the parking lots. As we concluded the hike and made it to the parking lot the first thing I noticed was this really cool bright red Jeep. Chrome wheels, big tires, winch, fancy bumpers, the works. Easily a $50K ride but with no soul (at least not yet). Parked a short distance was this old Dodge Van. My friends and I gathered around it and inspected it’s scars, rust and dirt. This was not the best ride in the lot but man it has some history. Just looking at it you know it has had some serious adventures.
Once I was on a flight to Denver that arrived at sunrise.
It was one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve ever had.
I have hoped to see this view on other morning flights into Denver but it has never been the same. The last one being stuck in the middle with a passenger who kept the window shade closed the whole time we were in air. At least I had this picture to think of.
Above: Almost a ghost town, Thompson Springs, Utah. I have spent a lot of time looking at this humble little house making up little stories about what happened here. This little house from another time with it’s yard clearly defined from the larger surrounding. A power pole that marks the location like it was a road side casualty. Not generally a fan of the photo cliche’ of dilapidated buildings or “Ruin Porn” I usually pass these structures by and leave them to other photographers. Something about this one…
Above: Abandoned structures in Thompson Springs. Would love to find an image of what was once here. Building on the left looks like it was used for some sort of agricultural storage. Look closely at the space between the buildings. A sealed (at one time) passage. The structure on the right looks like two buildings sharing a common front. The left one had a door and a window, the right one a door and two windows. The doors are tricky. Was the original door between the windows and then at some later time when the two fronts became one the door moved to the center and old door locations filled in? I’m probably to respectful for my own good as a I honor privet property and only shoot from the road. Next time I’m down there I’ll have to find someone who knows.
Above: Almost ghost town. Classic abandoned house next to the Desert Moon Hotel (actually a small trailer park for temporary workers that live out of campers parked there. And the Hotel is for sale if anyone is interested.
Above: Detail of the doorway mystery.
Above: Shadow portrait at the Thompson Springs Diner. The diner is pretty boring both inside and out. I thought this was the best photo for the location. Thompson Springs has a few other buildings including a Hotel with about 20 rooms (all with the doors open and full of trash and graffiti) The train depot (abandoned) and a few occupied residences. Someday I’ll return and photograph them as I’d like to meet the residents of this almost ghost town. I’m sure there are some interesting folks there.
Below: Backside of my favorite house in Thompson Springs.
Of the half dozen times I have been to Moab my latest visit was the first time I had the ability to drive some of the areas back roads and discover some amazing landscape. On my last visit I picked up a copy of Charles Wells book Guide to Moab, Ut Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails and have spent some quality time reading it’s contents. The first trail in the book is the Book Cliffs & Sego Canyon (suitable for stock 4-wheel drive SUVs). The above image shows the Book Cliffs and Crescent Junction as seen from the I-70 rest area. By the time I get here I am ready for Moab, however this time Moab would have to wait for several hours.
Above image: the Xterra at Thompson Pass with the first trail dust of the trip. Below: The road through Thompson Pass to our first waypoint. From there we would follow a wash for a few miles then climb up to the top via a steep windy section of the trail. The trail goes through some great scenery as it winds along and is fun to drive. Having to keep an eye on the road I did not stop for many pictures. Highlights included spotting a Pronghorn and an Eastern Collard Lizard.
After about 20 miles a small trail leads out to the overlook below. The Trail was challenging in a few areas with tight turns, rocks and small ledges. Being new to 4-wheeling, I’m still getting to know the Xterra and what it is capable of when it comes to clearing rocks so I took it easy. At a point about 3/4 of the way to the overlook I came upon some larger rock ledges an decided to walk the rest of the way. As I reached the overlook the wind picked up and it looked as if rain could come our way. Not wanting to get stuck off the main road I cut my time at the overlook and got going.
The rain held off and after viewing the rock art in Sego Canyon we headed back to the highway via Thompson Springs. Below: parting photograph of the Book Cliffs at the mouth of Sego Canyon. At this point the cliff rises 800 feet from the desert floor.
All photos in this post shot with the Leica M8.
Waiting to start a ranger led hike in the Fiery Furnace (above) and the most interesting vehicle in the parking lot when we finished the hike a few hours later (below).
A shot from a couple years ago of a couple at the Windows section of Arches National Park. I’m working on a bunch of posts about red rock country that will start showing up online next week.
December 2008 was the last time I was in western Utah. Took a day trip from SLC out to Wendover to check out the Bonneville Salt Flats. The rocky outcropping in the image is called Floating Island. Next time I’ll get a bit closer to the craggy pointy bits. Any one know if you can drive out there? I pulled this image up for the blog as I’ll be visiting the area again tomorrow. I’ll be traveling with a group of Nissan Xterra owners through the western desert of Utah following the old Pony Express Route. Our drive ends in Wendover and I am hoping to have time to photograph the Salt Flats again.
Camera: Leica M8 w/ Zeiss zm 50/2
The other western landscape. Massive power transmission lines near the Utah and Idaho border.
Lonesome road through rolling hills near the Utah-Idaho border.
©2012 Andrew McAllister